Starting XI, presented by StorageMart, is a biweekly series on SportingKC.com that highlights 11 of the biggest storylines and news updates from Sporting Kansas City, MLS and soccer around the globe. Click here to visit the Starting XI archive.
1. Nuevo Número Nueve
Sporting Kansas City announced Tuesday that the club has acquired 28-year-old Mexican striker Alan Pulido as a Designated Player on a club-record transfer fee from C.D. Guadalajara. Pulido has scored over 100 combined goals for club and country during a decorated career highlighted by five domestic championships, the 2018 Concacaf Champions League title and 13 caps for the Mexico Men’s National Team. The striker joins Sporting after finishing atop the Liga MX scoring charts with 12 goals for C.D. Guadalajara in the 2019 Apertura season this fall.
2. Amazing Alan
Pulido, who joins Sporting as one of the most heralded signings in club history, boasts a decade of big-game experience, trophy-laden success and an overall track record that has Manager Peter Vermes believing he “embodies all of the attributes we value at our club.”
This, of course, begs the question: why should supporters be excited about Pulido’s arrival in Kansas City? What makes his addition to the squad such a big deal? Frankly, there are more than a few reasons. Click here to read up on nine things you must know about Sporting’s new No. 9.
3. Pod for Pulido
A club-record signing calls for an impromptu offseason edition of the Sporting KC Show Podcast. Hosts Nate Bukaty, Carter Augustine and Aly Trost huddled up in the wake of Sporting's momentous announcement that the club has acquired Pulido in a blockbuster transfer from C.D. Guadalajara. The trio also hears from soccer pundit Paul Tenorio, a leading contributor for The Athletic, who discusses Major League Soccer's transformational jump into a new era of increased spending on star players.
4. Shelton Returns
Sporting Kansas City announced Monday that the club has signed 26-year-old forward Khiry Shelton to a three-year MLS contract through 2022 with an option for 2023. Shelton, who has spent 2019 with German club SC Paderborn 07, returns to Kansas City for his second stint at Sporting after helping the club to first place in the Western Conference and a record-breaking scoring season in 2018.
5. Top 20 Moments of the Decade
Over the last 10 years, few professional sports franchises have experienced a more transformational journey than Sporting Kansas City. From Wizards to Sporting, from minor league baseball park to world-class soccer stadium, from MLS afterthought to perennial title contender, the 2010s ushered in a Kansas City soccer renaissance as Sporting enjoyed a meteoric rise both on and off the pitch.
Throughout this decade of success, everyone tied to the club—from players and coaches to owners and fans—made priceless memories that will last a lifetime. As the 2010s come to a close, SportingKC.com is counting down the top 20 moments of the decade. The daily series will run from Dec. 12-31, looking back on the biggest matches, announcements and off-the-field developments that left lasting impacts on the club. The top 20 list was determined through voting among front office associates at Sporting. Click here to visit the top 20 as it unfolds.
6. Award Winners
At the forefront, Sporting Kansas City has received Security Team of the Year honors for the first time. Additionally, Sporting’s ticket sales staff garnered the following awards:
- Full Season Ticket Sales – Commissioner’s Club
- Full Season Ticket Renewal – President’s Club
- Ticket Service Excellence – Devan Dignan
7. The Best of the Decade
With another decade of Major League Soccer action in the history books, MLSsoccer.com has counted up the leaders in various statistical categories. Not too surprisingly, Sporting Kansas City has a strong contingency of leaders across 22 wide-ranging classifications. Some of the categories cover the standard stats fans peruse on a regular basis, while others detail more specialized numbers you may not have thought much about.
8. Fantastic Four
9. First Two on Tap
Sporting Kansas City will host rivals Houston Dynamo on Saturday, March 7, in the club’s 2020 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park. The match will come one week after Sporting kicks off its MLS campaign at Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, Feb. 29—the earliest start to an MLS regular season in league history.
- Saturday, Feb. 29: at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9:30 p.m. CT)
- Saturday, March 7: vs. Houston Dynamo (7:30 p.m. CT)
10. Tickets Available
The best way to guarantee tickets for the 2020 home opener at Children’s Mercy Park is to join the Sporting Kansas City family and become a Season Ticket Member. Several multi-game ticket packages for the 2020 season are also on sale now at SportingKC.com, including the “Mess with Texas” package that pairs the home opener versus Houston with Sporting’s home game against FC Dallas. Single-game tickets for the first half of Sporting’s home schedule will go on sale to the general public in early 2020.
11. College Showcase
Major League Soccer on Wednesday announced details for the inaugural 2019 adidas MLS College Showcase, which will take place from Dec. 13-15 in Raleigh, N.C. The three-day event will give technical staffs from every MLS club an opportunity to scout the top collegiate prospects in the nation, including players with remaining NCAA eligibility.